Since 2010, Laughing Pony Rescue in Rancho Santa Fe has been saving horses, donkeys, and other animals from abuse, neglect, and slaughter. To date, the nonprofit has rescued more than 1,370 animals. Laughing Pony staff rehabilitate and retrain the animals so they can be adopted into a forever home or be used as therapy animals. Laura Spielman, an Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning and an EAL Facilitator, uses her expertise with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and to help people become more mindful.
What made you want to become a volunteer for Laughing Pony Rescue?
I found the benefits of being with horses when I was going through a challenging time in my personal life. Being with the horses at Laughing Pony really helped me find myself and my passion in life. I truly believe in the mission of Laughing Pony and for me it was the perfect fit.
What do your volunteer duties entail?
I wear multiple hats at Laughing Pony. As well as regular volunteer duties caring for our animals (feeding, cleaning, etc.), I lead mindfulness workshops, corporate leadership workshops, one on one sessions as well as group sessions working with the horses in a therapeutic capacity.
Is there training required?
Our regular volunteer jobs are on the spot training, no previous experience is necessary. For my therapeutic side of the job, I have certifications from Path International as well as the Equine Academy for Learning.
What’s the time commitment to volunteer?
Our volunteer shifts run in two time frames seven days a week. From 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. We have some volunteers that come every day and some that only come once a month. We are happy to have anyone who shares our passion.
What’s the best day to volunteer?
No day is a bad day at LPR. My personal best days are when the work is done and we are able to just enjoy being in the presence of these majestic animals.
What’s the biggest challenge to volunteering?
The rains this past year were a challenge for us. Our horses love their play time, and it just isn’t as easy without the cooperation of the weather.